EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Lewis Jones scored 14 points, but Javon McCrea responded with 14 of his own as the University at Buffalo picked up a 56-50 win over the University of Evansville men's basketball team Thursday evening at the Ford Center.
Evansville (0-2) led by as many as nine points in the first half, but a 12-0 run in the second half by the Bulls (1-2) proved to be the difference. Jones led the Aces with 14 while Egidijus Mockevicius hit 6-of-7 shots en route to 12 points. Ned Cox finished the night with ten.
McCrea led the Bulls with 14 while Cameron Downing tallied 12.
Offense was at a premium early on as neither team was able to find an offensive rhythm. Evansville missed its first six shots while the Bulls were 0-1 while committing five turnovers. Just over three minutes in, Auraum Nuiriankh hit a free throw to break the drought. On the ensuing trip down the floor, Colt Ryan hit a lay-up to put UE on the board. His basket led UE on a stretch where they connected on 8-of-10 shots en route to a 17-8 lead midway through the first half.
Buffalo utilized a 7-0 run as they closed within a pair at 17-15 before Cox hit a shot to end the stretch. A bucket by Javon McCrea would knot the game up at 19-19 with a little over four minutes remaining before Cameron Downing broke away from the defense for a floater to give the Bulls their first advantage at 25-23 inside of two minutes to play. Evansville would rally to take a 27-25 lead into the break as Troy Taylor knocked down a pair of free throws in the final seconds. UE forced the Bulls into 12 turnovers, but shot just 32.3%. Aside from its run of -10 shots made, the Aces hit just two out of 21 attempts.
Jones, who tallied nine points in the first half, connected on the seventh trey of his UE career as the Aces came out firing in the second frame. His long-range shot put Evansville up 32-25 at the 2-minute mark of the latter period. That edge was short-lived, however, as a dunk by McCrea with 12 minutes left gave the lead back to the Bulls at 37-36.
The run by Buffalo would turn into a 12-0 stretch as the Bulls grabbed a 43-36 lead. Over the run, UB hit all six shots while UE was 0-6 with four turnovers. Mockevicius ended the stretch with a layup before scoring two more buckets to get UE back within a point at 43-42. The rally continued as Cox hit a free throw with four minutes left to tie the game back up at 45-45.
Following a Cameron Downing basket with 3:33 remaining, the dagger came in the form of a three by Jarod Oldham with 2:27 left. The Bulls would hang on in the end to take the 56-50 decision.
Buffalo outrebounded UE by a 37-28 margin. Taylor and Jordan Jahr had seven boards apiece for UE. For Taylor, it marked the 15th time in the last 20 games dating back to last season that he has notched five or more rebounds. The Bulls shot 48.9% while Evansville finished the night shooting 34.5%
A busy weekend for Evansville continues tomorrow as the Aces play host to Yale at 7:35 p.m. In the opening game of the day, Buffalo will take on Western Illinois at 5 p.m. Fans can watch both games of the day with the purchase of a ticket to the UE game. Two more games will be played on Saturday while Sunday's game pitting Western Illinois against Yale will take place at the Johnson Center on the campus of Oakland City University.